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To call something "classic" insinuates that the thing, whether that be a movie, a game, or an album, is of such importance and impact to its medium that it will always be remembered, and will always hold up over time. With video games, meeting these demands are particularly difficult, largely because so much of their appeal is tied up with rapidly-evolving technology. Some games like the original Super Mario Bros. or Pac-Man transcend time and graphics, but can a first-person shooter ever hope to enjoy the same longevity? After an extended period of time revisiting the original Call of Duty via Call of Duty Classic, now out on Xbox Live Arcade, I can confidently say that while some first person shooters may be deserving of "classic" status, this is not one of them.
The original Call Of Duty was a PC exclusive from the Infinity Ward, a then-new studio. Most of that team had had previous experience working on Medal of Honor: Allied Assault for Electronic Arts, and while many people regarded the first game in the franchise that eventually brought us Modern Warfare 2 as superior to MoH:AA, the differences between those two games were not at all striking. Infinity Ward's talent in the genre first became apparent with the release of this game, as it was hailed (at the time) as an amazing and innovative World War 2 experience.
I'm sure that the troops running around you and the set pieces were really impactful six years ago when this game was first released, but now that bigger and better things have come along it feels like a real chore playing through CoDC's campaign. The developers of this game didn't bother with updating the graphics or making any real improvements to the core gameplay of the original game for this XBLA release, so the $15 price tag feels like a real rip-off, especially considering the fact that there are plenty of newer games near that same price point.
Control-wise, there has never been anything very original about Call Of Duty. Playing through the initial training mission will feel like an insult to the intelligence of anyone who has played an FPS at any point over the last five years, as the control scheme in Call of Duty Classic is nothing more than a less refined version of the same controls that everyone is now used to in recent releases.
Call of Duty Classic's multiplayer is almost pointless, as it just doesn't hold a candle to the multiplayer experiences provided by the most recent releases in the Call of Duty franchise. It would've been really innovative and cool if Activision had repackaged the multiplayer for the re-release to include a similar ranking system to the one that they've been using in their newer CoD games, but as with the rest of the game, no extra effort was put into the multiplayer to make it even slightly attractive.
Call of Duty Classic is definitely a well made game, just like it was when it was released on the PC in 2003. Missions are a little slow-paced for what fans of recent CoD games have gotten used to, but the interesting set pieces and overall pleasant experience of working one's way through the main storyline is still enjoyable. Unfortunately for CoDC, the game relied heavily on its advanced visuals to make its name back in the day, and those just do not hold up today.
A lot could have been done to make Call of Duty Classic a legitimately exciting release, but so very little effort was actually put into this straight port of a 6 year-old game. Slightly janky controls, noticeably ugly graphics, and a general lack of any real motivation to pick up the multiplayer in this game, combined with the unreasonable price makes this a game that I simply cannot recommend to anyone but those who will get a nostalgia rush by replaying the same game that they probably loved years ago. Porting this "classic" to any new console was a bad idea.
Platform(s):Xbox Live Arcade (reviewed), PSN